Sun soaked and rich in culture: an insider’s look to the Caribbean Region Colombian Caribbean coast 1.0: General facts
Location: This region is located in the northeast of Colombia, and it extends from the end of the Andes Cordillera in the southern zone, to the Caribbean Sea in the northern zone, and from the Guajira peninsula to the Department of Antioquia.
The limits of this region are: to the east with Venezuela, to the west with the Pacific region, to the north with the Caribbean Sea and to the south with the Andean mountain range.
Population: 9 million people Area: 132.288 km² (11,6 % of the national territory)
Altitude: Maximum: 5.775 m (Sierra nevada de Santa Marta);
Minimum: 0 m;
Mid: 300 m.
Weather: No seasons. Mid temperature of 25 ºC. Rain seasons: march to May; September to November.
Main Cities: Barranquilla, Cartagena de Indias, Santa Marta, Valledupar, Montería, Sincelejo, Riohacha.
Main Airports: Riohacha-Almirante Padilla; Santa Marta-Simón Bolivar; Valledupar-Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo; Barranquilla-Ernesto Cortissoz; Cartagena-Rafael Núñez; Montería-Los Garzones.
Transportation: buses, taxis, Transcaribe, internet apps, private cars.
What to wear? Light fabric clothes, shorts, skirts, dresses, hats, sunglasses, comfortable shoes for warm weathers.
People from the Caribbean region are generally known as “costeños”.
Said to be the happiest and most stress-free community of Colombia
Bathed in the waters of the Caribbean Sea and rivers of Magdalena, Cauca, Sinú, San Jorge, Atrato and Ranchería.
Many well know Colombian artists where born here, such as: Shakira, Sofía Vergara, Carlos Vives, Gabriel García Marques, Carlos “el pibe” Valderrama, Silvia Tcherassi, Edgar Rentería, Totó La Momposina, Joe Arroyo, Lucho Bermudez, and more.
There is a town close to Cartagena called San Basilio de Palenque, founded by escaped slaves as a refuge in the seventeenth century, and survives until the present day. Its a unique cultural space, and it encompasses social, medical and religious practices as well as musical and oral traditions.
The highest point of the country is located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. A magical landscape where you can see the beach, the ocean and the snow picked mountains.
Some of the most typical Latin rhythms and dances where born in this region as well, such as: cumbia, vallenato, mapalé, porro, and more.
The second most important carnival of the world is celebrated in Barranquilla
The natural offer is quite vast as well, the region has more than 1.700 Km of beaches, jungles, deserts, and over.
Birthplace of illustrious artists, mouthwatering gastronomy and music essentials
The Caribbean region of Colombia is well-known for having very peculiar and deeply rooted customs. Many of these traditions have become a national reference, and are even representative of the entire Colombian territory. Historically, socially and culturally it is one of the most important regions of the country, due to the social network that has been articulated through traditions and ways of living that are notoriously distinguished from other regions of the country. What most identifies the Colombian Caribbean region is its collective identity. Despite being geographically divided into eight departments, its citizens maintain a common identity, connected by the Caribbean Sea: a notorious accent, great dancing and cooking skills among others can be identified.
The recognition of Colombia worldwide is due in large part to the continued work of characters who have excelled in different social fields. The list includes from a Colombian president, businessmen, writers, poets, journalists, models, designers, athletes, singers, composers, etc.
The eight departments that make up the Colombian Caribbean Coast stimulate and enrich their cultural diversity, not only through their cheerful people, we are the face of a country that disseminates rhythms such as cumbia and vallenato, expressions of art through “sombrero vueltiao” and “mochilas arhuacas”. Oral and intangible heritage through Carnival and many other parties that identify the region.
The cuisine of the Colombian Caribbean Coast is very extensive and varies according to each department of the region, combining traditional cuisine, coastal seasoning and an aphrodisiac touch. From the colony diverse traditions, elements and techniques of the indigenous, European, African and mestizo cultures are incorporated. One of the most popular gastronomic traditions, of African origin, is presented through the «Palenqueras», which are usually seen in the streets of Cartagena with large bowls on their heads carrying fresh fruit or sweets for sale.
The Caribbean cuisine is based mainly on seafood (fish, oysters, crabs, shrimp) due to its large coastal area. They also highlight a wide variety of regional agricultural products and tropical fruits (sapodilla, watermelon, loquat tamarind, corozo, etc.) common in the territory. On the other hand, fried and sweet are an essential part of the culinary catalog.
The Caribbean region in Colombia is the birthplace of some of the most prominent rhythms of the South American continent. To the north, Valledupar, capital of the department of Cesar, is known for being the heart of vallenato, a musical genre declared by UNESCO as Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, which features the accordion, the box (small leather drum of goat) and the “guacharaca”, legends and popular myths. Valledupar is the city were the “Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata” is celebrated, a very popular festival of the country as well. The accordion is an indispensable element in the “Parrandas”, celebrations that exalt friends, love or life, where more than dancing, the romantic airs of this instrument are contemplated: the puya, the merengue, the son and the paseo.
A little further south it is possible to live the most important festival in Colombia: The Carnival of Barranquilla. A celebration parades, costumes, music and dance, a majestic spectacle that dresses the city and more than 90 thousand people (national and international) that arrive between January and March for these holidays.
Its most representative rhythms, typical in addition to coastal folklore, are cumbia, puya, jalao, garabato, chandé, porro, bullerengue, mapalé, merecumbé, and Champeta, this one being recognized in the entire Caribbean region for being a musical genre originating in Afro-descendant areas of the city of Cartagena, in the department of Bolivar, linked to the culture of the San Basilio de Palenque district.
One hour from Palenque is Cartagena which also stands out for being the home of important musical events such as the Classical Music Festival or the Hay Festival, and for its variety of bars and discos with rhythms for all preferences. Here, culture and gastronomy merge together, in experiences where visitors take salsa and champeta lessons after an allusive tour of the “patacón” (fried green plantain), which ends “Donde Fidel” one of the most famous salsa bars in the historic center of the city to practice the dance moves previously learnt.
Nature, islands and beaches
Located in the north of Colombia (this is why we call it the country’s crown), bathed by the warm waters of the Caribbean, bronzed by the burning sun that flows over the savanna, the forest, the desert and the snow-capped mountain peaks. Dressed in river flows that cross a territory full of multicolored fauna and flora. The richness in vegetation and biodiversity of the Caribbean region is indisputable.
This area of Colombia has five natural national parks, among which are the Coral Islands of Rosario and San Bernardo, Paramillo, Tayrona, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Macuira. In addition, the natural sanctuaries of Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, Los Colorados, Los Flamencos and El Corchal el Mono Hernández. In addition, the road between Santa Marta and Barraquilla has been declared as a protected park.
Fronting both the Caribbean, Colombia is blessed with countless sun-toasted stretches of floury sands plus pristine, picture-perfect islands. The 1760km Caribbean coast is home to the country’s best beaches, from backpacker hotspots like raucous Taganga to the rarely visited Punta Gallinas with its massive dunes. Playa Blanca at Isla de Barú is located southwest of Cartagena, found on a small island easily accessible from the mainland. Tayrona National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia. The flora and fauna are the stars of this undisturbed landscape, with massive palm trees, vegetated beaches, and rocky cliffs abound. If you’re hoping to get off the beaten path, Palomino is the perfect place. The town and its pristine beaches rest quietly on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Located nearly at the end of the Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia, the beach area known as Pilón de Azúcar (translated as «pile of sugar») is one of the most spectacular beach areas in Colombia. The actual beach area is nestled at the base of two hills of bright orange sand and is surrounded by green limestone bases.
The archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia is home to isolated beaches, unspoiled coral reefs and an alluring island flavor, however these islands will be talked about deeply in another newsletter focused on the insular region.
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